Paul Tompkins Physiotherapy

Orthopaedic & Sports Injury Specialist

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Conditions treated - Sports Injuries

Physiotherapy plays an integral part in the multi-disciplinary approach to the management of sports injuries. The aim of physiotherapy is to treat and fully rehabilitate the athlete post-injury, post-operatively, to prevent further injury and to return the athlete to sport in the shortest possible time.

Chartered Physiotherapists have a wide range of proven and documented approaches to treatment from which to choose. Prompt assessment and diagnosis is vital in the successful treatment and rehabilitation of sports injuries. Athletes suffering from a recent injury or a recurring problem can benefit from the expertise of a specialist team. A multidisciplinary team approach is ideal as cross-referral may take place in order to rehabilitate the 'whole' person and not just the injured part.

What is a sports injury

A sports injury would normally be an injury sustained by an athlete training for or competing in a sporting activity. The description is applied to a number of different conditions and or injuries. If an athlete sustains an injury through any other cause or activity this would be treated in the same manner as one sustained through a sporting activity.

Injuries can only be successfully treated when the cause of the problem is fully investigated and corrected; therefore, a detailed history would be documented at the first consultation and a complete posture, gait, and biomechanical assessment would be made.

We would seek to ascertain the location, nature, behaviour and onset of symptoms, etc.

This would be followed by a physical examination where a methodological approach is adopted. Sometimes further investigative procedures will be needed to confirm the diagnosis.

How can physiotherapy help?

A thorough evaluation of all the factors contributing to the athlete's symptoms is established and a treatment plan established.

This would include goals of treatment and rehabilitation. The aim of which is to:

  1. Protect the injured tissues to allow healing and to control the early inflammatory phase.

  2. Rehabilitate flexibility, strength, proprioception, and muscle imbalance, and control physical activities with the aid of taping and splinting if applicable.

  3. It is essential to ensure that the athlete does not compete too soon. Individual programmes will be planned and explained fully. This would include sport-specific exercises, adaptation to new postures to correct muscle imbalance, taping and strapping and a home exercise programme.

The athlete will be progressed carefully from one phase to the next, and the criteria for progression are based on function, not time. We will establish sport-specific functional testing to establish when our patient should move from one phase of rehabilitation to the next, and finally, to full participation.

We strongly encourage our patients to avoid over training in all of these phases. Training would be monitored so that full activity does not occur before full recovery has taken place.

Our belief is that prevention is better than cure and as your physiotherapist we will always advise the patient on how to prevent recurrence of the injury on return to sport.

Your consultation is likely to include:

  • advice about exercises or physical activities that will help
  • posture and lifestyle advice and activities to avoid.
  • In some instances a referral to a specialist or surgeon will be the appropriate course of action. In the event that this is the best way forward your physiotherapist will offer advice and guidance on post operative recovery and rehabilitation.
  • pain management techniques.

It may also include:

  • applying heat or cold to the affected area, and showing you how to do this at home
  • hydrotherapy.
  • acupuncture
  • electrotherapy.

Meanwhile, how can I help myself?

  • Warming up and cooling down is considered by most to be essential in the climate within the UK
  • Warm muscles stretch much better than cold muscles. Ligaments and tendons are much more likely to tear when the muscles are cold and inflexible.
  • The warm-up procedure helps in several other ways, too, both physically in diverting the blood flow from non-essential areas to working muscles, and mentally, in focussing the athlete on the approaching event.
  • We recommend at least 15 minutes and up to 30 minutes warm-up before hard training starts.
  • In ball games this can often be done with a ball, carrying out various skill routines, but in all cases it should start with 5-10 minutes of gentle movement, gradually increasing in pace, followed by 5-10 minutes of stretching, still in warm clothing.
  • After that, one moves to fast strides and eventually to short sprints, then stays warm and loose until the start.
  • A sprinter might well take 45 minutes to warm up for a 10-second burst of energy.
  • In addition we strongly recommend a cool-down period, which should last for 10-15 minutes after a competition or a hard training session.
  • Your body temperature returns to normal and the fatigue products are flushed out of the muscles, which reduces the chances of stiffness the next day.
  • If you are a runner, particularly in cross-country or road running check the course before hand. There may be unexpected traps for the unwary, potholes in the road, sudden ups or downs, all of which could cause trouble if you are not prepared for them, and of course this is closely linked to the next recommendation.
  • Wear the right shoes. Shoes which are too light or flimsy or which are unevenly worn are two very common causes of injury. If you turn up expecting a soft course and find that it is frozen hard, you could be in a lot of trouble.
  • Perhaps the commonest cause of all injuries is training too much on hard surfaces.
  • Running fast on roads and tartan tracks causes a lot of impact shock. I recommend getting off the road at least one day in three.
  • Shower and change after training This reduces the likelihood of stiffening up and your chances of catching a cold. Ideally, a hard session or a race should always be followed by a massage if you want to recover quickly.
  • Travel in comfort, whilst this may sound silly it is not at all uncommon for athletes to stay wedged into a minibus or a train, sitting awkwardly for several hours before an important event.
  • I recommend that you get up, walk around and stretch once every hour while travelling, if possible. Apart from the muscles, the more you can keep down the stress, the better you will perform.
  • It is best to get to the venue the day before the event for anything big, and if you have to deal with major changes in climate and/or time zones it is best to get there a week beforehand.
  • Avoid infection After hard sessions, the immune system is definitely vulnerable. Athletes in hard training are particularly susceptible before a big event. Stay away from crowded rooms, schools, and people with bad colds and be fussy about hygiene All too often people in training camps or in Games villages pick up stomach bugs just before the big event, and the reason is often evident from the sloppy conditions in which they live, with food left around, dirty clothing, people sharing cups and glasses.

Disclaimer: The content on this page is provided for general information purposes only and is not meant to replace a physiotherapy or medical consultation.

Note: You do not need a GP referral to receive physiotherapy if you self fund your treatment. However if you intend to claim all or part of your treatment costs back a GP referral is usually required by your insurance company.